Sunday, May 27 was Trinity Sunday. This week, let’s say a prayer to the Holy Trinity (this prayer is from the Eastern Orthodox Church):

Arising from sleep I thank thee, O holy Trinity, because of the abundance of thy goodness and long-suffering thou wast not wroth with me, slothful and sinful as I am; neither hast thou destroyed me in my transgressions: but in thy compassion raised me up, as I lay in despair; that at dawn I might sing the glories of thy Majesty. Do thou now enlighten the eyes of my understanding, open my mouth to receive thy words, teach me thy commandments, help me to do thy will, confessing thee from my heart, singing and praising thine All-holy Name: of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.



A prayer from Saint Augustine (354-430), whose feast day was yesterday (Aug. 28):

Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit,
That my thoughts may all be holy.
Act in me, O Holy Spirit,
That my work, too, may be holy.
Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit,
That I love but what is holy.
Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit,
To defend all that is holy.
Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit,
That I always may be holy.



Week 3: Letting Go
Befriending Silence

In Befriending Silence, Carl McColman explores three kinds of monastic prayer that can help us today. In previous posts, we looked at the gifts of lectio divina and the Divine Office. We now turn our attention to contemplative (silent) prayer.

Contemplative prayer gives us much-needed peace and inner rest. When we pray in silence before God, McColman says, “The Holy Spirit invites us to gently set aside our attachments to our interior drama so that we might rest in God’s unchanging stability.”

Since it is mostly without words or particular agendas, contemplative prayer offers an additional benefit that can also be a challenge: letting go of our all-pervasive need for control.


Contemplation challenges us not only as individuals but as a society because ours is a society that rewards assertive, take-charge, type A behavior, and we want to do spirituality in the same way.


Think of it this way: every conversation requires both speaking and listening, otherwise it is one-sided. The Divine Office and other verbal prayers invite us to speak to God, while contemplation gives us the space to listen.


Contemplative prayer fosters an inner spirit of acceptance and receptivity. It reminds us that we are not in the driver’s seat when it comes to prayer (or indeed any aspect of spiritual living). When we pray in silence, we actually embody humility in our prayer. We make ourselves available to God but without presuming to tell God what we want to have happen or what we think should happen. Rather, we shut up and let God take the lead.

Read more.

For reflection:

McColman - week 3

Featured Book: Finding Grace at the Center

Week Three: Prayer without Judgment or Evaluation

finding-grace-at-centerIn Finding Grace at the Center: the Beginning of Centering Prayer, a collection of essays by M. Basil Pennington, Thomas Keating, and Thomas E. Clarke, Thomas Keating provides an extremely helpful introduction to centering prayer based on The Cloud of Unknowing, a Carthusian monk’s prayer guide for novices dated to around the 14th century.

Keating is especially careful to avoid overselling what “happens” during centering prayer. One may not expect incredible revelations or to even be fully in control of what happens during this prayer. Rather, intention becomes essential as we enter this form of prayer.

Keating writes:



“[Centering prayer] is not an end in itself, but a beginning. It is not to be done for the sake of an experience, but for the sake of its fruits in one’s life.”


“The presence of God is like the atmosphere we breathe. You can have all you want of it as long as you do not try to take possession of it and hang on to it.”


“Accept each period of centering prayer as it comes, without asking for anything, having no expectations. In that way its fruits will grow faster.”


“We always want to possess. That is why it is so hard to leg go–why we want to reflect on moments of deep peace or union in order to remember how we got there and thus how to get back. But charity is non-possessive. It gives all back to God as fast as it comes. It keeps nothing for itself.”


“Take everything that happens during the periods of centering prayer peacefully and gratefully, without putting a judgment on anything, and just let the thoughts go by. It does not matter where they come from, as long as you let them go by. Don’t worry about them.”


Read more…


Contemplative Profiles: Evelyn Underhill

Contemplative profiles are back with the help of author and historian Lisa Deam. This month we’re featuring Evelyn Underhill:

Lately I’ve enjoyed getting to know some of the modern contemplatives and mystics. One of these is the Anglo-Catholic writer Evelyn Underhill (1875-1941). Underhill offered scholarly studies on great mystics from the past — she called them giants and heroes. At the same time, she insisted that the life of prayer and contemplation belongs to every ordinary person. No heroism necessary.

Underhill also believed that contemplation belongs to every era — eras of conflict and eras of peace. One of her early books, Practical Mysticism (free on Kindle!), was released at the beginning of World War I. Underhill almost postponed its publication out of concern that its subject matter would seem inapplicable or, even worse, selfish and otherworldly. But she decided that there was no better time to nourish the spiritual life.

We, too, live in times of turmoil and conflict. As Christians, we’re acutely aware of the world’s brokenness. This month we’ll explore what, according to Underhill, Christian contemplation offers us in troubled (as well as more peaceful) times.

I’ll leave you with some quotes from Practical Mysticism on the applicability of contemplation for every Christian.

For those who embrace it, the contemplative life “will teach them to see the world in a truer proportion, discerning eternal beauty beyond and beneath apparent ruthlessness. It will educate them in a charity free from all taint of sentimentalism; it will confer on them an unconquerable hope . . .”


“Though it is likely that the accusation will annoy you, you are already in fact a potential contemplative: for this act, as St. Thomas Aquinas taught, is proper to all . . .  is, indeed, the characteristic human activity.”

Read more about Underhill in the Fuller Studio.


About Lisa Deam

Lisa Deam writes and speaks about Christian spiritual formation from a historical perspective. She’s the author of A World Transformed: Exploring the Spirituality of Medieval Maps. Visit her on Twitter @LisaKDeam and at lisadeam.com.

Scripture Meditation: The Glory of God Surrounds Us

“O Lord, our Sovereign,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.”
Psalm 8:1, NRSV

Creation is God’s invitation for us to witness his glory and beauty. The stars above our heads each night preach a message of creativity and love.

Taking a walk, enjoying our surroundings, and finding peace in a deep breath of fresh air can all become acts of worship for our caring God.  It also falls to us to find ways we can care for God’s creation in order to preserve this message of creativity and care for future generations.

May we always find new reasons to praise the majestic name of God as we observe his work all around us.


For Reflection




Featured Book: Everything Belongs

Week Five: Free from Fear

everything-belongs-rohrIn Everything Belongs,  Richard Rohr writes that we find freedom from our fears and anxious thoughts by facing them.

In this moment of awareness, we may find that our fears and wounds appear to be even worse than we have realized. There is no way around this. There is no way to avoid this.

As we face our thoughts, we will develop the capacity to trust in our crucified Lord who conquered all of suffering and death, identifying with our weaknesses and still rising to new life.

Much like the silent mystery of the Resurrection, our new life will come from God in ways that we cannot detect but that cannot be denied:



“The wounds to our ego are our teachers and must be welcomed. They must be paid attention to, not litigated. How can a Christian look at the crucified and not get this essential point?”


“A lot that’s called orthodoxy, loyalty, and obedience is grounded in fear. I do a lot of spiritual direction, and when I get underneath the language of orthodoxy and obedience, I find fear… We call it loyalty, but it’s often fear.”


“Most people become their thoughts. They do not have thoughts and feelings; the thoughts and feelings have them… So we have to observe, but also not let the observer become an accusing tyrant.”


“In the silence of contemplation, we will observe the process whereby we actively choose and create what we pay attention to. that’s why the first twenty minutes are usually so terrible.”


“In reality our growth is hidden. It is accomplished by the release of our current defense postures, by the letting go of fear and our attachment to self-image. Thus, we grow by subtraction much more than by addition. It’s not a matter of more and better information.”



For Reflection





Friday Favorites for Prayer and Writing

Each Friday I share some of my favorite finds related to praying or writing. If I think it could help you pray or write better, then I’ll include it below.

Do you have someone else’s article or post to share? Join the Contemplative Writers Facebook group, comment on today’s post on my Facebook page, or follow me on Twitter (@edcyzewski) to nominate your favorite articles, blog posts, and books by Thursday at noon each week.

Seasons of the Soul via Adam McHugh

How Gratitude Made Ann Voskamp a Contemplative Activist

Tips for Handling a Toxic Co-Worker (The contemplative response? compassion)

Thoughts on Contemplative SilenceThoughts on Contemplative Silence

Sleepy Wasps and Ecclesiastes via Tanya Marlow

10 Predictions for the Days After November 8 (Deep breaths folks…)


Keep the Contemplative Writer Sustainable

The Contemplative writer is ad-free and never shares sponsored content, but it is a lot of work to maintain. We rely on affiliate links from the books we share and the generous donations of our readers. An automated monthly gift as low as $1 per month or a one-time gift of $5 goes a long way to sustaining our mission to provide contemplative prayer resources for our readers.

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Featured Article: How to Face Digital Addiction

This week’s featured article discusses the possibility of a digital addictions disorder (DAD) that could impact roughly 5% of Americans and could impact as many as 30% of people in countries with frequent internet use.

Heavy internet gaming and social media use can distract us from work, interrupt our relationships, and ultimately change the ways that our brains function and seek pleasure or rewards. While most of us need to be online for one reason or another, we all need to recognize the signs of a problem.

Here are a few key quotes to consider from the article:


“A digital addiction is comparable to addictions such as food or drugs in its obsessive nature. As is the case with all addictions, they influence the brain – both in the connections between the cells and in the brain areas that control attention, executive control and emotional processing. It triggers the release of dopamine, providing a temporary “high” on which addicts become dependent.”


“Being stressed out or suffering from anxiety and depression can be a contributing factor in the development of addictions. In addition, people who suffer from DAD are often no strangers to other addictions such as alcohol, drugs, sex or gambling. People who have relationship issues also seem to be at a higher risk of developing an internet addiction. They use digital “connections” to boost their spirits and to escape from their problems.”


Read more…